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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – After delivering another hit to the head in Game 3, Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been suspended for three games.
According to the NHL Player Safety Department, Wilson delivered an “illegal check to the head” during the second period.
Washington’s Tom Wilson suspended three games for an illegal check to the head on Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese. https://t.co/rrZ8Hp3XkE
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) May 2, 2018
In a nearly five-minute video, the NHL explained the suspension.
They say, in part: “Wilson pivots to deliver the check with his left shoulder, then elevates up and into the hit, making the head the main point of contact and causing an injury. This is an illegal check to the head.”
Watch the full video here:
Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese was exiting the defensive zone when Wilson delivered his vicious hit to the head.
Aston-Reese remained down on the ice and bleeding for several moments. He skated off under his own power, but did not return.
No penalty was assessed on the play.
It was later revealed that Aston-Reese had suffered a concussion and a broken jaw, which will require surgery.
Sullivan on ZAR: “We lose a guy to a broken jaw that’s going to require surgery and a concussion because of another high hit to the head. At some point we would hope that the league might do something.” -SK
— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) May 2, 2018
In Game 2, Wilson delivered a hit to the head of Brian Dumoulin. No penalty was assessed, and the NHL didn’t deem the play worthy of a suspension.
Dumoulin also left the game and did not return. He was able to play in Game 3.
Wilson is also a repeat offender following two suspensions in the preseason.
After watching two Penguins take hits to the head, fans are upset and angry with Wilson, the Capitals and the NHL.
Fan Bill Moore, from Shaler, thought he was watching old time hockey.
“I think the game is evolving. It’s a different sport now, there’s no place for that kind of thing anymore,” he said.
Among the Penguins faithful, Moore was far from alone. Olesya Barr, from Beaver Falls, says the hit was, “A little extreme. Hockey is a brutal sport, but that should be punished.”
Her husband Aaron agrees, saying, “I thought it was dirty and this is the second time in as many games that he’s injured one of our players. I would say to be honest he ought to be suspended for four games. Take him out of the series completely.”
Derrick Montgomery thinks that’s a bit much, “He should be penalized and suspended a game and then able to play the next game. It’s a sport, you take hits, guys get paid and they should be able to play the game.”
KDKA’s John Shumway Reports:
After a morning skate in Cranberry, Penguins team captain Sidney Crosby said, “Obviously, it wasn’t a great hit. So, I’m sure they are taking a look at it. It’s my job to play. So I’m going to focus on playing and let everyone else who’s job it is to focus on those hits take care of that. I’m focused on playing.”
That was a common theme across the Penguins locker-room. Goalie Matt Murray side-stepped a question about Wilson’s future.
“That’s not my decision that’s out of our hands,” he said.
Coach Mike Sullivan, “I don’t think our team even focuses on it quite honestly. We’re trying to focus our attention on our game and how we can improve and put ourselves in the best opportunity to win games and that’s where our focus is.”
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang says the team is determined to let the officials handle Wilson and don’t expect the Penguins to retaliate on the ice Thursday night.
“We can only control between the whistle, anything you do after the whistle is not going to help us win so our focus is to play the game and let the league do what it has to do,” he said.
Sullivan did not provide any update on Aston-Reese beyond his post-game announcement that the Penguins’ young forward has a concussion and a broken jaw requires surgery.
Crosby says he’s spoken to Aston-Reese, saying “I feel bad for him. It’s tough to see your teammates get hurt and a young guy like that is excited to be in the playoffs.”